Capitol Alert

Democrats eye total supermajority + Xavier Becerra: Phone addict?

Is Alex Padilla really that boring, attorney general?

Attorney General Xavier Becerra gets distracted while California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told reporters at a news conference Friday that California has record-high voter registration numbers.
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Attorney General Xavier Becerra gets distracted while California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told reporters at a news conference Friday that California has record-high voter registration numbers.


We’ve all been there. We’re talking to someone when our phone buzzes. We don’t want to be rude, but we’ve got to respond. Such appeared to be the case for Attorney General Xavier Becerra during a Friday news conference with Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Less than a minute in, with Padilla discussing record-high voter registration, Becerra pulled out his phone, shook his head, and began typing.

Seconds later, he pulled out what appeared to be a second phone from a case resting on his belt concealed by his suit. After returning the second phone, Becerra got back on his first one and continued texting. He tucked his phone away, looked up and caught Padilla in mid-sentence: “Californians are fired up and ready to vote this year.” Well, maybe not all Californians.

The Attorney General’s Office did not respond when asked for about comment what Becerra was doing on his phone. A spokesman for Becerra’s campaign said he wasn’t in attendance, so he couldn’t speak to what happened.

But we have our suspicions at The Sacramento Bee. Perhaps he was sharing his frustration with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Trump scored a major victory over California in its latest court battle over federal lands. Perhaps he was ordering discounted Halloween candy on Amazon. Or maybe he was engaging in a covert operation to hijack the event.

The ball is in your court, Mr. Becerra. We demand answers!


Democrats have majority control of the California Legislature. Now the party sees the possibility of total domination in the Capitol, with supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

By all accounts, even under the worst of circumstances for them, Democrats will keep their existing two-thirds majority in the Assembly. If they don’t lose any seats they hold, Democrats would claim 56 seats — the most Assembly seats the party has held in 40 years.

Republicans would need to keep all their current seats and gain three more to break the Democratic supermajorityin that house — a tall order that is unlikely to happen. The most competitive races for the Assembly this year are likely District 32 in Bakersfield and District 60 in Riverside. Democratic incumbent Sabrina Cervantes lost the 60th in the primary to Republicans Bill Essayli by 6 percentage points. Democrat Rudy Salas will face a tough task holding his seat in Kern County, as he narrowly fended off Republican Justin Mendes in the primary by less than one percentage point.

Half of the 40 seats are up for grabs in the Senate, with the vast majority of them likely to go to those seeking re-election. The best shot for Democrats to take a two-thirds majority and win that precious 27th seat is in District 12, where Democrat Anna Caballero is competing against Republican Rob Poythress in the Central Valley


Several outside organizations are pouring money into California to influence the outcome of Tuesday’s midterms. Through NextGen, billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer has spent $3.8 million to register nearly 29,000 young voters and target seven House races and three ballot measures.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent millions through his Independence USA PAC backing Democratic House candidates in Southern California. He’s spent $4.3 million to run ads supporting Harley Rouda in his efforts to unseat GOP incumbent Dana Rohrabacher in District 48, which is located along the coast of Orange County by Huntington Beach. He’s also spent $4.5 million in ads to support Democrat Katie Hill over Republican Rep. Steve Knight in District 25 by northern Los Angeles County. Finally, he’s spent $1.4 million on ads supporting Democrat Mike Levin over Republican Diane Harkey in District 49, which touches a small portion of Orange County and stretches to northern San Diego County.


On Friday, Padilla released the final statewide registration report before the upcoming midterms on Tuesday, showing a record-high number of registered Californians. Nearly 19.7 million are registered to vote — up 11 percent from the 2014 gubernatorial election. Over 78 percent of eligible voters are now registered, which is the highest percentage heading into a midterm election in nearly 70 years.

In a news conference in San Francisco, Padilla touted the rise in registrations as a sign of enthusiasm.

“It’s almost unprecedented to see record registration in a midterm election year,” he said. “It’s usually a presidential election year that motivates a lot of people to register to vote for the first time. … I think it’s clear to say that Californians are fired up and ready to vote this year.”

The most notable shift over the last four years is the decline in registered Republicans and the uptick in voters with no party preference. While the proportion of registered Democrats has held steady, Republicans have dropped by 4 percent, as No Party Preference voters have risen by the same amount.


There are 13 competitive House races in California, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. We’re most closely monitoring eight of them. In all of those races, Democrats have gained momentum over the last two years.

Right now, here are the advantages both parties are carrying going into the midterm:


Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) — “(Duncan) Hunter robbed voters. He should be ashamed. He’s gone from courageous Marine to coward in congress. He robbed voters of what would’ve been a worthy debate. I’ve attended 20 town halls & 5 debates. He’s attended none. We deserve better. On Nov 6, CA50 will get what we deserve.”


‘Think big, spend conservatively.’ Influencers have plenty to say for the next governor.

“My best advice: think big, spend conservatively, ask for advice, trust your gut.”

— Karen Skelton, Founder and President, Skelton Strategies

MUST READ: Trump scores victory over California in latest court battle over land


The Bee’s Editorial Board thinks more people should care about mental health care for California prisoners.

The Ed Board also believe the potential death of Proposition 10 will not kill ongoing rent control debates.

Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former speechwriter for Gov. Pete Wilson, has a bleak electoral outlook for California Republicans.

Manuel Pastor, director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California, proposes an economic renewal program for California’s next governor.

Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, wants the next governor to focus on education funding and workforce development.

Pamela Eibeck, president of University of the Pacific, and Sacramento Mayor Darrrell Steinberg, reflect on the legacy of George Moscone.

Eric Dowdy, executive vice president at LeadingAge California, believes California’s next governor must focus on seniors.

Anthony Iton, senior vice president of the California Endowment overseeing the 14 Building Healthy Communities projects, thinks the future of health care is at stake in the upcoming midterms.


Jack Ohman helps you make your own campaign ads